Sunday, April 17, 2011

ROCATERRANIA: The Imaginary Nation by Renaldo Kuhler

(Above) This is a hand drawn map of the fictional country of Rocaterrania, on the border of Canada and just north of the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Click for larger view.

THIS IS THE STORY ABOUT A TEENAGER named Renaldo Kuhler, who in 1948, first fantasied about a fictional country he called Rocaterrania. This imaginary place, born of unhappiness and boredom, was to consume his life. Here’s the story, and it begins with his father Otto.

Otto Kuhler, a German immigrant who came to this country with seven dollars in his pocket, achieved some success as an industrial designer and landscape painter. After his success, Otto moved his wife and only son from upstate New York to a remote Colorado ranch—his version of the American dream. His son, Renaldo, was a teenager at the time, and Renaldo found the isolation and remote location of his new life unbearable. He retreated to a private fantasy world by drawing in his notebooks—creating his own imaginary country called “Rocaterrania.” It became his lifelong obsession, and the notebooks revealed his secretly coded desire to escape the boredom of his life.

The short video you are about to see is the movie trailer for a full-length documentary by filmmaker Brett Ingram about Renaldo Kuhler’s imaginary country. Renaldo Kuhler envisioned a tiny nation of eastern European immigrants who purchased a tract of land along the Canadian border - just north of the Adirondack Mountains in New York - after growing restless with America’s notions of “democracy.” Over the next six decades, Rocaterrania saw two revolutions and the rise and fall of a succession of czars, dictators, and presidents among a cast of characters vaguely resembling Russian historical figures. But, as the film reveals, each change in government reflects a deeper meaning for Renaldo, an outsider who struggled to escape an emotionally abusive family and searched for freedom within a real nation threatened by forces of conformity.

About the Filmmaker Brett Ingram:

Formerly a journalist, physics teacher, and electrical engineer on the Space Shuttle Main Engine Program, Brett Ingram has been making films since 1990. His short documentaries and animated films have screened at more than 150 festivals, winning thirty awards collectively.

Ingram’s first documentary feature, Monster Road, won sixteen awards (including “Best Documentary” at the 2004 Slamdance Film Festival) and screened at more than ninety festivals and cinema venues internationally before premiering on Sundance Channel in 2005. Ingram has been awarded a Visual Artist Fellowship (1995) and a Film and Video Artist Fellowship (2002) from the North Carolina Arts Council. In 2007 he was awarded a Fellowship in Filmmaking from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Ingram teaches filmmaking in the Department of Broadcasting and Cinema at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has also taught filmmaking at Wake Forest University and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His current project is Rocaterrania, a documentary feature about the secret world of visionary artist Renaldo Kuhler.

Brett Ingram is the sole founder, owner, and operator of Bright Eye Pictures.

Reposted from 2/20/09

1 comment:

a wild creature said...

Your blog is great and this is a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing the Rocaterrania story :)

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